image title

ASU campus harvest puts the squeeze on sustainability

Student and community volunteers sought for ASU sour orange harvest Feb. 3-5.
What to do with sour oranges? ASU prof shares a marinade recipe.
Oranges harvested in Tempe turned into drinks, dishes served on ASU campuses.
January 31, 2017

Learn more about the sour orange — including a recipe for the tart fruit — and volunteer for this week's annual harvest

Unsuspecting students who hope to snag a sweet snack off one of Arizona State University’s many orange trees are in for a tart surprise: The trees on the Tempe campus bear sour oranges, or Sevilles.

So what’s the point of a sour orange? It turns out they have a long history and a bright future.

Originating in Southeast Asia, the oranges made their way into Arabia in the ninth century and eventually to the Spanish region of Seville, which gave them their present-day nameOther names include naranja ácida, naranji, melangolo, khatta and soap orange. To the English Tudors the oranges were “golden apples,” a luxury in British winters.

For 500 years the Seville orange — which is used in savory dishes (see recipe below) and marmalades — was the only orange found in Europe, and it was the first one introduced to the New World by the Spanish. It can still be found in Everglade hammocks today.

Eventually the sour orange made its way to Arizona and to the Tempe campus.

“We don’t know exactly when they were planted,” said ASU ground services program coordinator Deborah Thirkhill. “They were very popular in the ’50s and ’60s when they were planted all around the city of Phoenix and on campus.” 

Today, the tart fruit is part of a sustainability initiative. Each year, Thirkhill and a small army of students and community volunteers take part in a harvest of 5 to 6 tons of oranges from all the trees on the Tempe campus. The harvest is a partnership between ASU Grounds Services, Aramark and Sun Orchard, which donates juicing of the sour oranges.

This year’s event is Feb. 3–5, and volunteers can sign up here.

The harvested oranges are turned into 400 gallons of juice, which Aramark chefs turn into innovative dishes and desserts available at Engrained at the Memorial Union.

Some of that juice is turned into DevilAde, a unique juice blend served in all ASU residence halls.

DevilAde “is really good, and we mix it with an agave nectar and other sweeteners,” said Krista Hicks, sustainability manager for Aramark ASU. “Then we make some delicious treats, kind of like a lemon bar — you can make a Seville orange bar, or we do Seville orange whoopie pies as well, which are my favorite.”

As a Sun Devil student herself, Hicks was one of those unsuspecting snackers when she mistook the bright orange for a sweet variety. She said the flavor reminded her of a lemon or a Sour Patch Kid.

For years the oranges were harvested by a Sunkist broker, and until 2008 they were used for marmalade and exported as far as Canada and the East Coast before the market bottomed out. The fruit spent two years being dumped into landfills before ASU sustainability practices found a new life for the unloved sour fruit. The Seville sour orange campus harvest eventually earned the 2015 President’s Award for Sustainability.

Thirkhill says she often fields questions from foreign students about why Americans don’t pick the valuable fruit. 

“Every country seems to have a signature dish,” said Thirkhill. “That kind of dropped out of our culinary repertoire, but it’s coming back big time.” 

 

For those who cannot make the spring harvest, there’s a fall date harvest open to volunteers. For more information or to volunteer for either harvest, contact Deborah Thirkhill at 480-268-4165. Follow the ASU Arboretum on Facebook and Twitter

 

Top photo: Sustainability graduate student David Fought inspects oranges, deciding which can be collected and which will be composted, during last year's sour orange harvest on the Tempe campus. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Deanna Dent

Photographer , ASU Now

480-727-5972

 
image title
Free series of open houses rolls out the welcome mat at ASU's campuses.
Family-friendly Night of the Open Door lets kids explore science, art and more.
January 31, 2017

Bring the family and 'nerd out' with hundreds of hands-on experiences, performances, tours and more on five Valley campuses

Searching for new ideas and unique experiences with the family in 2017? Does your New Year’s resolution include medieval knights and chain mail, international culture, new-age cars, space exploration or Teotihuacan pyramids? What about discovering the newest career fields or meeting the brainiacs heading labs at the No. 1 most innovative university in the country?

Arizona State University hosts the Night of the Open Door on its five campuses across metro Phoenix. Each offers adults and children the opportunity to “nerd out” and celebrate the power of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) with more than 360 hands-on experiences, tours, performances, creative activities, demos, games and design challenges. 

Get free tickets in advance online and enter to win a gift package. Tickets also function as an express pass to collect the free glow wand and event programs at the registration booths once on campus.

With so many activities to consider, Night of the Open Door also offers an app through Devils on Campus (Android or iOS) to help visitors choose activities in advance and navigate each campus. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for highlights of upcoming events.

In its sixth year, Night of the Open Door is a top signature event of the Arizona SciTech Festival. Each campus offers performances and activities tailored to its own unique character. For example, chart an evening at Downtown Phoenix to experience cooking and health demonstrations, Native painting activities and community arts exhibits. Come tour PBS studios, meet ASU Public Service Academy students or compete in sustainability, law and health learning games. Kids can even get their junior reporter press badge working with veteran journalists and vintage typewriters.

Exploration of West campus gets visitors thinking about black widow spiders, forensics and the neuroscience of chocolate. Try to beat a lie detector test, build electronic circuits or experience ASU students’ research in cancer, aging and drug development. There’s Minecraft, Angry Birds, art shows, design, dance and much more.

At ASU Polytechnic and Thunderbird campuses, imaginations can take flight, literally. The Polytechnic campus is home to robotics and STEAM machines, the Superstition Review Literary Magazine, Sun Devil Racing Development and a professional flight simulator. The ASU Thunderbird School of Global Management adds an international flair with arts and culture from around the world, including movies, sports, dance, festivals and food, from Peru to the Middle East and China.

ASU’s Night of the Open Door winds up on Feb. 25, with more than 150 hands-on arts and sciences activities, lab tours and demos on the Tempe campus, including the ASU Sustainability Solutions Festival (#Sustival) and, new this year, the futuristic arts exposition “Emerge.”

Emerge events bring to life how our creations are changing what it means to be human, exploring the theme of “Frankenstein” in celebration of the upcoming 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s classic novel. In addition to Victor Frankenstein’s Workshop for kids, Emerge events for adults are hosted at ASU’s University Club and include artists, virtual reality experiences, neurocomics and immersive environments. Consider the future with “Tomorrow's Monster,” a lab space designed for the year 2047 that features beautifully crafted, customized organs, enhancements and spare body parts. What are the implications of commodification for the future of medicine, artificial intelligence, robotics and what constitutes life itself?

Whether your interests are in language lessons, math or cybersecurity, ancient bones, meteorites or live snakes, Night of the Open Door events have something for everyone, fueled by more than 2,000 undergraduates, graduate students, staff and superstar-faculty volunteers from 150 academic groups.

“I’m impressed by the energy that our volunteers pour into Night of the Open Door each year,” said Darci Nagy, ASU special events manager. “It’s grassroots. Their enthusiasm makes visitors’ discoveries in sustainability, medicine, journalism, language, sciences and engineering more personal and exciting.”

“Coming to ASU for Night of the Open Door, touring the campuses and meeting the world-class people who teach and do research gives people of all ages and from all walks of life the chance to experience and imagine the future they want,” said ASU staffer Margaret Coulombe.

Margaret Coulombe

Director, Executive Communications , Office of the University Provost

480-965-8045